Where Does Your Traffic Come From?

by Greg on April 9, 2012

I love April, as it’s National Poetry Month, so I get to wear my “poet hat” a lot, and, because it’s National Poetry Month, it’s the biggest traffic time at my blog GottaBook and I get to study stats with geeky abandon. Among many other things I look at, I like to see what brings traffic to my blog.

Studying traffic sources has helped me fine tune what I do over the years. For example, I get a lot of traffic from search engines, with folks trying to find poems (for school, for fun, for work, for who knows what). The takeaway for me is that making my poems more searchable based on what people are looking for – for example, a soccer poem not a poem named Goal – means I get more visitors. In other words – keywords matter.

Another major source of consistent traffic is from links to my blog from other blogs and websites. Many of these links date back to 2006, by the way, yet they still send traffic to me. Others are more recent: links to poems and posts right up to this week. The takeaways: create content folks want to share AND remember to link to others since it clearly makes a difference.

A lot of traffic comes from what I’d call “one time” events. For example, the Choice Literacy newsletter linked to my announcement post for 30 Poets/30 Days, and School Library Journal linked to my blog, too. These send a wave of traffic my way, and that wave has ripple effects: many of the folks are bloggers, active Tweeters, or connected Facebook users, and they re-share the content. The takeaway: don’t only focus on blogs and social media.

Over the years, my number of subscribers – both to my blog and to my poetry email list – has gone up. The daily traffic has, too… until the last two years. Then it’s flattened or even shrunk in some month over month comparisons, though not as quickly as my subscription base has grown. It has been a few years since I saw a consistent new source of traffic However…

This year, Pinterest, like Twitter and Facebook before it, is noticeably driving traffic my way, mostly from folks excited about 30 Poets/30 Days and the individual posts within it. The takeaway here is that I have to come up with images for my posts, as you cannot “pin” something to Pinterest if there is no image to grab.

I learn a lot more by studying where visitors come from – including find folks to thank for their support – but these are some highlights. I use Site Meter and Google Analytics to see the info, though there are many options.  I also look at what works for sending traffic out, what links folks click (or don’t) when they visit, which posts are most popular and so much else… but those are thoughts for another day.

If you aren’t seeing where folks are coming from, I highly recommend you take a peek. And if you are looking, I’d love to hear what else you’ve learned from watching. It’s good, geeky fun, I tell you… and, for me at least, it helps with my efficiency, my understanding of what I’m doing online, and, in the end, my stats themselves.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ed DeCaria April 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Interesting that you’re getting traffic from Pinterest. I didn’t think about it as a source of traffic.

A huge % of my inbound links to March Madness Poetry at TKT came from Facebook. After that I had a lot come from search, and then sourced links from PACYA and various individual tournament participants or advocates. Twitter was only a blip. No other social sites registered more than 1-2 links.

I have my doubts about Twitter, actually. If you think about it, you have to take your nominal # of followers and filter heavily — HEAVILY — to arrive at an actual number of readers. I’m sure someone has done this math before, but I figure:

1) a lot of nominal followers are bots or auto-followers who don’t actually read tweets;
2) of those who have any chance to see a given tweet, only a fraction ever even see the tweet because they do not check Twitter in timely enough fashion for it to register;
3) of those for whom the tweet actually even crosses their field of vision, maybe half of them really “read” the tweet while the rest skim and/or scroll on by;
4) of the remaining followers who actually read the tweet, only a small percentage (single digits) take action and click your link.

Just a guess, but despite being an opt-in program of sorts, Twitter hit rates probably aren’t far off from the typical hit rates of other direct marketing vehicles.

Your mileage may vary.


Greg Pincus April 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Thanks for sharing your stats, Ed. I think one thing that might change the balance during March Madness is the very personal nature of it. We were inviting our friends to look at our work and vote, perhaps even for us! Facebook makes sense there (and Facebook events make sense, too). I’d also bet that most of your participating poets aren’t as active on Twitter as on FB thus shifting the balance. As point of reference, on both my blogs, Twitter tends to direct more traffic than FB, with occasional spikes the other way.

Your raw number analysis on Twitter is probably right, but I don’t really think of Twitter as a way to direct traffic. It’s about relationships. Beyond that, it’s also in how you use it. For example, how many of the #MMPoetry tweets do you think you missed, even if you weren’t on Twitter for a few hours? I agree this has little to do with how many followers you have, but that’s only one metric – I’d rather have 100 followers who pay attention than thousands who don’t.

Of course, traffic is also impacted by what type of Facebook user you are. I am not as active there, so personally, I almost always get better response on Twitter than FB. Conversely, I have friends who get 100 reactions whenever they post on FB….

As you note, your mileage may vary.


Ed DeCaria April 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Thanks for the reply and additional stats/anecdotes. This is all still really new to me, though I’m a sponge for these kinds of insights from trustworthy sources.

Poetry madness aside, I don’t really think of ANY social site as a means to direct traffic; not yet, anyways. Right now it’s just a way to connect with others in a more natural way than blog-to-blog. Twitter and FB are vehicles that people are using anyways for personal reasons, which I think may make people more likely read what you might have going on (i.e., your tweet/update), but not necessarily likely to click your link such that it interrupts their FB/Twitter experience.

Still curious about Pinterest as traffic source if you care to elaborate one day … but I know you’re busy this month!



Greg Pincus April 19, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’ll be writing about Pinterest again ere long, but the short version is… folks pinning images from poetry posts (like the 30 Poets/30 Days announcement) then others re-pinning and exploring. A lot of teachers and parents and poetry lovers sharing resources quickly and visually.

And it’s always hard to get folks to answer a “call to action.” Part of that is compounded by the fact that I must see thousands of links to click a day on Twitter – if I clicked them all, I’d never have time to sleep! Interesting times, indeed.


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